SC House Passes $ 208 Million COVID-19 Bill On Same Day Senate Passes Fetal Heart Rate Bill

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Hours before the South Carolina Senate passes bill banning abortions after a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is detectable, House passed multimillion-dollar bill dollars to help the state fight COVID-19.

Both houses, led by sizable Republican majorities, are now marketing legislation in the hope that the other quickly passes their respective bills.

“We speak regularly. They knew we were going to start here. We knew they were going to start there, ”Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) said of his colleagues in the other chamber. “Now they’re going to cross, and we’re going to be able to do them both,” he added.

The House bill allocates $ 208 million to the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Medical University of South Carolina to expand the capacity of the COVID-19 vaccine nationwide. State and improve the state’s coronavirus testing system.

The bill also calls on DHEC to allocate vaccines based on the population size of the four regions of the state (Lowcountry, Midlands, PeeDee, Upstate) rather than by county. Lawmakers have said they hope that by distributing the vaccine supply in this way, rural counties will not fall behind larger population centers like Richland and Charleston counties.

In the Senate, the Fetal heart rate bill prohibits abortion after six to eight weeks unless the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if there is a fetal abnormality.

The law considers it a crime for health professionals to perform abortions outside of these parameters, and the penalty can be a fine of $ 10,000, up to two years in prison, or both.

Massey was criticized this week by fellow Democrats for starting the legislature with a focus on abortion legislation. While praising the teamwork that he says helped pass the Senate Fetal Heart Rate Bill, Massey stressed that it was a top priority for many constituents of lawmakers. .

“We understand what the real issues are in South Carolina, we think this is one of them,” he said.

Senatorial Minority Leader Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) has said the bill is unconstitutional and will never be passed due to legal challenges.

“There are going to be challenges. We know that. We know what the original courts are going to do, but we think we have structured [the bill] in a way that gives us the best chance for success later, ”Massey said in response to criticism.

Asked specifically about the argument that legal fights could cost Southern Carolinians hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, Massey said he was aware the fight could be costly.

“I don’t know how much it can cost. I think it’s going to be expensive, but when you compare the expense to the possibility, the likelihood of saving thousands of lives each year, I think it’s an expense worth making, ”Massey said.

However, even supporters of the abortion bill wondered why Senate Republicans had not started the term with a greater focus on COVID-related legislation.

“We are okay with that, but I think the most important things like preventing COVID should be the first thing,” said Joanna Sikorska, resident of Sumter County.

She said she believed all abortions were murders, but that in the event of a pandemic there were more pressing issues.

“Maybe it’s just because right now we’re thinking about what’s going on,” she said.

Massey said as early as next week that the Senate would focus on issues that matter more to people like Sikorska.

“We also understand that we have to deal with COVID. We have to make sure that businesses can operate and people can go to work. We have to make sure the schools are open five days a week, ”Massey said. “We have a lot of work to do this year. we understand that. “

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.

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